Background History

09/04/19

05 bernard free library.png


Bernard Free Library

The Original of the National Library of Myanmar is Bernard Free Library which was established by Sir Charles Edward Bernard, British Commissioner for Lower Myanmar. He founded his private library with the cooperation of Sir John Jardin, Chairman of Education Syndicate for Lower Myanmar, with his books at his own building (now BEHS No.1) on 21 February 1883 and opened to the public for free use the library.

The collection of Bernard Free Library was increased by the publications in various subjects from western countries which were added by Sir John Jardine and Professor Childers from the Pali Department of Yangon University. U Po Hmyin and U Myo from Yangon also donated palm-leaf manuscripts and parabeik, and books in Mon, Myanmar and Pali languages for a value of 10000 kyats of that period. In addition, the library purchased palm-leaf manuscripts and parabeik collections of Bagan MinisterU Tin and Kinwon Mingyi U Kaung which were moved from Mandalay Palace.

In 1920, the library purchased manuscripts and books from Kinwun Mingyi Pitakataik with 15000kyats. In 1924, collection from Bagan Minister U Tin Pitakataik for 5000 kyats were added to the library.

After Independence, in 1952, the Ministry of Union Culture was established and the Bernard Free Library was transferred under the Ministry as a government organization. On 1 June 1952, the Ministry of Union Culture opened the library as “State Library” under the name of State Library, Museum, Art Gallery and Theatre at the Jubilee Hall in Yangon. The State Library inherited the collections of Bernard Free Library which comprised printed publications of 1900 in Europe, oriental books, and manuscripts from Mandalay Palace of Yadanapon period.

Opening as the National Library

In June 1962, the State Library was moved to Pansodan Street. During the period of Revolutionary Council, in 1964, the library was changed the name as “National Library” and moved to the third floor of City Hall in August 1964. The National Library opened its general reading room and provided services to its public at the City Hall on 4th January 1965.

In August 1984, the National Library was moved to the Six Storeyed Building at Strand Road by sharing spaces with other governmental organizations and undertaking its library functions.

On 15th July 1995, the foundation of the new building for the National Library was laid down at No.18/ 51, corner of East Racing Road and Laydaungkan Road, Tarmwe Township.

On 2nd May 2008, the library building was destroyed by the Cyclone Nargis. Some printed books collections and other non-printed collections were damaged by the cyclone but most of them were recovered as much as possible. As the damaged building was not able to be restored, the National Library was moved to No.85-A, Thiri Mingalar Yeiktha Lane, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road Yankin Township, Yangon.

 04 National Library YGN, Yankin.jpg

National Library (Yangon) No.85-A, Thiri Minigalar Yeiktha Lane, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road Yankin Township, Yangon


Since 2010, the National Library has been established as two National Libraries; (NLM/Naypyitaw) and (NLM/Yangon). The Ministry of Culture allocated budget to the National Library to build a new building at Naypyitaw, where the new Capital City of Myanmar. The new building was opened on May 3rd, 2013. In currently the National Libraries of Myanmar are under the Department of Historical Research and National Library, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture. There are two directors of the National Libraries and directors are responsible for the administration.

03 National Library Nay Pyi Taw.jpgNational Library (Nay Pyi Taw)


On 1st July 2017, the renovation of a century-old building for the National Library was laid down at No. 604/608 Merchant Street, Pabedan Township,Yangon. The National Library was moved to current place. It was opened in 2020.

01 National Library YGN Merchant.jpgNational Library (Yangon), No. 604/ 608 Merchant Street, Pabedan Township,Yangon


NL YGN.jpgNational Library (Yangon), No. 604/ 608 Merchant Street, Pabedan Township,Yangon


Relocating of the National Library

1948 August 1st                          - Municipal Building (City Hall)

1952 June                                  - Jubilee Hall (Museum of Military History)

1962 June                                  - No.166, Pansodan Street, (2nd and 3rd floors)

1964 August                               - City Hall (3rd Floor)

1984 August                               - Six Storeyed Building, Strand Road

1995 July                                   - East Racing Road and Laydaungkan Road, Tamwe Township

2008 to 2019                              - National Library (Yangon) , Thiri mingalar Yeiktha Lane, Kabar Aye                                                             Pagoda Road, Yankin  Township.

2010                                          - National Library (Naypyidaw) New Building.

2013 May                                   - Opening National Library (Naypyidaw)

2017 July                                   - Renovating of National Library (Yangon)

2020 April                                  - Opening National Library (Yangon) 

                                                     No. 604/ 608 Merchant Street, Pabedan Township,Yangon